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Tech

With Workplace ending, it’s fair to wonder if Meta ever took the company seriously.

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, launched an enterprise version of the popular social network in 2015. That always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer product that made most of its money through advertising, enriching in the business. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that it lasted this long.

Meta discontinued the enterprise product on Tuesday, ending the enterprise experiment nine years after its launch. It’s worth noting that there was some skepticism from the start about whether a company like Facebook could pull this off. Business is a different animal from the consumer world. It values ​​privacy and security and requires a set of back-end tools designed specifically for the enterprise.

As CRM Essentials founder and principal analyst Brent Leary said at the launch, it would be difficult for Facebook to take this step. “Facebook could achieve this, but it’s difficult to build a platform that meets the expectations of so many different types of human interactions in the professional context, as well as personal,” he said at the time.

Nine years later, Leary says it’s no surprise the product was discontinued. “This is just another example of a consumer technology platform not being able to successfully integrate into the enterprise technology space, but one wonders why it took them so much time to get to what was an inevitable conclusion, competing with companies like Microsoft and Salesforce/Slack,” Leary told TechCrunch.

Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, says that ultimately Workspace was a side project to the much larger consumer side of the home, and when Meta shifted into efficiency mode last year, writing was on the wall for Workspace.

“The reality is that for a company to be sustained, the CIO’s job is on the line, the CEO’s job is on the line, the HR manager’s job is on the line, and you don’t sell a business at random. . way,” Wang told TechCrunch. It requires dedicated salespeople, a customer success team, a product roadmap that companies can build on, and Wang says Meta hasn’t built that back-end business structure.

Still, the project wasn’t a complete failure, says Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder and principal analyst of Deep Analysis, with millions of users and a roster of major brands, but he ultimately believes it will fail for reasons similar to those of Wang.

“Business (enterprise) buyers and technology users want long-term support and predictability, and that’s why, despite many shortcomings, most will stick with Microsoft or Salesforce because they know that ‘They will always be there for them,’ he said. said.

In an interview with Atish Banerjea, CIO of Meta, in 2019, he indicated that at least from a technical perspective, the company took the business extremely seriously, talking with CIOs about potential users like Delta Airlines of how Facebook used Workplace internally, including how it integrated third-party tools like SAP and Salesforce, integrations that these companies would need (and that Slack and Teams are particularly good at today).

The idea behind the business version, at least in 2015, was that everyone used Facebook for their personal lives, and it seemed logical to move that into the workplace, giving users a similar look and feel to the tool they used at home. And at a time when we were trying to consumerize computing, integrating into work the tools that people used in their private lives, having a professional version of Facebook made perfect sense.

It’s also important to remember that there was no clear winner in the business communications space nine years ago. Slack was in its infancy and Microsoft Teams was still a year away. Salesforce had tried to establish itself in this area with the release of Chatter years ago, recognizing that there was a need for this type of product, but it never really gained traction and most of the related applications have been closed for years.

Salesforce would eventually buy Slack, of course, for a cool $28 billion, so it knew there was something in this space. Despite millions of subscribers, Facebook missed its chance in the business.

“In retrospect, this must be seen as a huge missed opportunity for Facebook; when it launched in 2016, no one anticipated the pandemic years where Teams, Zoom, etc. would thrive, but due to underinvestment and lack of interest from senior management, Facebook Workplace never really had a chance,” Pelz-Sharpe said.

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